The other night at the Liquor and Rubber Balls Sports Emporium and Boutique Plumbing Supplies, professional gambler Duck Diamonds mentions something about the Miami marlins I don’t see in my local newspapers.
Being from Jersey, and spending a lot of time in the region, Duck keeps his eye on both American and National League eastern divisions. “I made a lotta cash off your Phillies over the years,” he likes to tell me. “The squares up there don’t bet with their brains — they get all wrapped up in the hype and flow. Not like New York, where I can’t give away a fucking wager on the Mets. Nobody takes ‘em, no matter what I tack on to the score.”
“See, that’s what I like about you Philly fans,” says Duck, waving over Don Tequila for another round. (Featured beer: Pacifico on draft, what Don refers to as “the Miller High Life of Mexico.” Hard to know if that’s a compliment.) You got passion, you got balls. And for a while you had a good team and you handled it just right.
“But now you got a buncha problems up there with your shortstop and new manager. It’s a lose-lose situation. Managers like Sandberg have a short shelf life because they ain’t players managers, and unless they start winning, the team has to replace ‘em.”
Because you can’t fire the whole team.
“Right. In fact, they already went through this with Larry Bowa — and here he is back with the team under a guy just like him at as time when the team is really wobbly without a whole lot of hope. So the new manager has a problem with his legacy shortstop whose numbers are down and worse yet, acts sometimes like he has better things to do than play all-out. Which is what guys like Sandberg and Bowa just can’t stomach and never could.”
It really pisses of the fan base, too. Mike Schmidt found that out, and he wasn’t even guilty of it, just looked like it sometimes.
“Anyway, I see this interview in the Boston Globe with the Marlins’ new GM, Dan Jennings. They’re talking about Giancarlo Stanton. He’s your franchise caliber player, but he gets hurt a lot, and when he’s not playing the team is even worse than hopeless. So Jennings says something like, ‘Maybe we want him to play smarter than harder. Maybe on a sure infield out, it’s okay if don’t run his ass off and risk a pulled ligament’.”
[Editor’s note: I found the quote later: “Sometimes,” the GM said to the Globe, “and I don’t want this to come out the wrong way, you don’t need to run a 4.3 when there’s a two-hopper to second base when you know what’s going to happen.” — philly.com]
Duck presses his lips together — wait. Do ducks even have lips? I need to check on that, too.
“See — this kinda shit is just bad for the game. It’s been going on for a long time, which is bad enough, but when a team’s GM acknowledges it like this, all hell shoulda broke loose. It ain’t okay not to drive yourself at full throttle, and if there’s times when you don’t — maybe he’s just disgusted with a bad AB and wastes time throwing the bat and stomps a bit before running — you mend it on the spot. But the GM — a new GM, no less, brought in to reshape a lousy franchise with an apathetic fan base, dumb owners, and bad media relations — can’t say stupid shit like this.”
Well, he can if nobody pays attention.
“Which is what he got away with, thanks to the even lamer baseball coverage in this town,” says Duck with a laugh. “He says this in New York or Philly as their GM, the press is all over his sorry ass. Down here, hell.”
We sip our Mexican Millers. Tasty, refreshing, and flat as south Florida itself. No tits, no head.
How’s business, Duck?
He laughs. “After the Superbowl, I don’t need to work for a year. You know how many people handed me their entire stock portfolios after betting on Denver? The Koch Brothers made me an honorary family member.”
You got an early pick for the World Series?
He laughs again. “Nobody you like,” he says. “But you’re a Philly guy, so I figure you’ll get your heart broke again.”